(1926-2013) US engineer, university lecturer and author who published his first sf story, "Tomorrow's Weather" for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in April 1953, long before he became seriously (though briefly) involved in fiction; much of his nonfiction of the 1950s and 1960s dealt lovingly with the ocean and with oceanological research and exploration technologies. His first two novels are both set in the ocean-girt Cape Cod region of New England, followed suit; they share a similar plot structure, circling in upon a central instant of space/time at which Transcendence may be possible. The protagonist of At the Eye of the Ocean (1981) has an intuitive capacity to understand the inner shape of the ocean Under the Sea, which unveils to him a mystical enlightenment about the shape and outcome of human history; the love-affair that drives the action of A Rose for Armageddon (1982) comes to fruition at the morphological heart of a Timeslip in the centre of an Island in the midst of the waters, leading to a form of liberation from (and possibly for) an Ecologically-degraded Near-Future world sliding into chaos. His third novel, Chronosequence (1988), similarly presents its protagonist with a mystery from previous centuries whose solution involves the ocean, geography, time-slippage, an Alien presence, and, once again, the potential redemption of the world.
Though the range of Schenck's concerns is clearly narrow, there is nothing forced or lame in his presentation of these stories; their intensities are fluent, grounded and scientifically competent. His short novel "Steam Bird" (April-May 1984 F&SF) recounts – in a clearcut, perhaps slightly heavy-handed manner characteristic of early Steampunk – the pioneering flight of an enormously slow steam-driven nuclear bomber (see Transportation; Weapons). It later appeared as the lead tale in Steam Bird (coll 1988), along with the novella, "Hurricane Claude" (April 1983 F&SF); Wave Rider (coll 1980) assembles his early short fiction. Most of his work of interest is set along the coasts of New England and in the nearby ocean. His intent was never regional, however; the world for which Schenck spoke was the world as a whole. [JC]
see also: End of the World; Gothic SF; Pastoral; Scientists; Sociology; Time Paradoxes; Timescape Books.
Hilbert van Nydeck Schenck Jr
born Boston, Massachusetts: 12 February 1926
died 2 December 2013
- Wave Rider (New York: Pocket Books, 1980) [coll: pb/uncredited]
- Steam Bird (New York: Tor, 1988) [coll: title novel first appeared April-May 1984 F&SF: pb/Vincent Di Fate]
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